Several years ago, Hartland teacher Kay Fountain attended a band concert her son was performing in at a local teen center in Ann Arbor. It was there that the and gym teacher realized what an opportunity it would be for Hartland to create it's own space for local youth.
“I walked through the teen center and I couldn’t help but think what an awesome place that was,” she said. “It was not formal, it was very casual, laid-back.”
The very next day, Fountain says she was struck with the inspiration of turning the empty Hartland township hall, on Hartland Road, into that place.
After months of rallying community members and organizations around her cause for - the name chosen for the teen center - a new nonprofit called Hartland Enrichment and Recreation Organization (HERO), was recently formed. The nonprofit will help run the center, taking care of admistrative, maintenance, staffing and other issues. There is also the potential for the nonprofit to help other organizations in the future as well.
The HERO board will consist of 10 community members from several local organizations and Fountain says she appreciates and is thankful that each one who is willing to donate their time to help.
“They’re amazing,” she said. “They see a need and they see the potential of the building.”
Hartland Township has committed $50,000 to help renovate the building, which Fountain calls the “perfect location” and she says she hopes to have the center open by September.
Splitting her days between two schools, Fountain says last fall, her decision to start the teen center was reinforced when she saw groups of kids who, for whatever reason, were hanging out after school with no real place to go.
“We can keep them on the right path to be amazing citizens doing positive rather than negative stuff," she said. "That’s huge for our society, that’s huge for our community.”
Cromaine director and HERO board member Ceci Marlow agrees with Fountain’s vision and says the library already has plans to be involved and start an outreach program, helping to organize events and programs.
“One of the things that we aren’t able to do is a lot of supervised outdoor activities,” Marlow said. “We were at the facility last night and that’s an incredible backyard so they will be able to do some cool stuff back there.”
Focusing on making it a teen-driven center, both Fountain and Marlow say they are hoping to see the kids become active and involved with how the center will look as well as what they decide to do there.
“I would love for them to get organized and help out with different community events,” she said. “The possibilities are endless, but that’s going to be decided by the teens.”
The first step, however, is getting the center open. Fountain says they will begin the hiring process for two adult supervisors and eventually a wish list sent out to the community looking for usable items such as furniture, TVs and other donated materials.
HERO Board members include:
- Ceci Marlow- Cromaine District Library
- Joe Colaianne- Hartland Township Trustee
- Joe Petrucci- Hartland Township Trustee
- Michelle Otis- Hartland Community Education
- Steve Livingway- Hartland Middle School principal
- Adam Carroll- Hartland Fire Department
- Karen Wisinski- Hartland parent
- Shoshana Reynolds- Hartland High School student
- Matt Germane- Hartland Township Trustee
- Kay Fountain- Hartland school teacher